This is the third of five questions the six mayoral candidates answered for Racine County Eye. We’ll have more over the next few days. Their answers were submitted to Racine County Eye and lightly edited.
The primary election will be held Sept. 19. The two candidates with the most votes will then be on the ballot for the special election on Oct. 17.
Last week we highlighted their biographical information.
The City of Racine remains among the highest with its unemployment rate and 9,000 Racine residents don’t have a GED or high school diploma. How would you address that?
Mayoral Candidates Answer
I’m concerned that many of us do not understand the magnitude of the challenges that those 9,000 and others face on a daily basis. There are honestly some of our fellow citizens for whom a parking ticket or a flat tire on their car represents a major impact on their economic status. Without a family or circle of friends support system, it can become far too easy to lose hope and give up. If drugs and crime are immediately available it shouldn’t be a mystery why they are chosen.
We also need to recognize, but not shame, those who are struggling with mental health issues. I would hope that we have learned by now that entangling them in the cycle of law enforcement, incarceration and unemployability is not leading to success for them nor safety for the rest of us.
So, we need to do a better job of identifying those who need help and will be responsive to it and, I believe, take a less punitive attitude toward them. In a very real sense, many of us who are succeeding at life must not give up on those who are struggling. More of life consists of work than leisure, and great satisfaction can be derived from work well done. The job of improving this community belongs to all of us, not just the Mayor. And yes, any project we embark on will require some financial support. My preference is to see some of our city’s financial resources directed to addressing the issues discussed here rather than toward a extremely risky arena project on Lake Ave. Particularly if, as is currently the situation, that project would add nearly $65 million to our already dangerous debt load.
The future belongs to the municipality that figures out how to close that gap, and I believe we can do it. We must invest in a serious way with partners like Gateway, First Choice Pre-Apprenticeship, and Big Step to train more people for the building trades and high-tech jobs that are just around the corner. Foxconn coming to our area presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to move thousands of area residents into good, middle class jobs. As mayor, one of my biggest priorities will be to ensure that we are trained and ready for those jobs.
We take the students from abstract theories and place them in an environment where it is half theory and half creating something. Other learning topics such as fine arts can be drawn in once the students are established. Home life impacts school life so if we can assure the students’ meaningful experiences which will open doors to gainful employment; school will once again become relevant.
The city’s partnership wouldn’t stop at these institutions I would actively seek partnerships with non-profits, churches and houses of faith to help address this epidemic.